Many teenagers struggle with shyness. They may have a difficult time introducing themselves in a crowd. Or they don’t like spending time in large groups of people.
It’s natural and normal to experience some nervousness in social situations, particularly during the teen years. Shyness is not something parents should fret about.
When shyness leads to the avoidance of situations parents should take note. If the shyness evolves into the limitation of personal interactions, parents should worry.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social Anxiety is a chronic health conditions where social interactions cause irrational anxiety. Everyday social interactions result in anxiety, fear, embarrassment and self-consciousness. These are some of the common Symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
Intense fear and anxiety in social situations
Excessive worry about feeling embarrassed in public
Avoidance of social settings
Severe performance anxiety
Hypersensitivity to potential criticism
Fold their arms, avoid eye contact, keep their head down when in groups or social situations
Feel shaky and startle easily
Social anxiety can significantly affect a teen‘s social and academic life.
Parental Support for Teens with Social Anxiety: What to Do
It can feel powerless as a parent when you have a teenager who experiences social anxiety. It is pernicious and deeply rooted in the fear network of the brain. Because the fear network doesn't think analytically and just feels, it can be challenging to see much movement, at first, using logic to combat social anxiety.
There are some things that as parents you can do to help. Below are a few suggestions.
Explain the Nature of Anxiety
Help your teen understand that some level of anxiety is natural and helpful. Explain that anxiety helped early humans avoid dangerous situations. Anxiety activates the body‘s fight/flight response. While anxiety is a helpful guide it is a terrible master.
Teach Calming Strategies
Remind your teen of the physiological aspects of anxiety. Anxiety can trigger rapid breathing. Rapid breathing can activate the sympathetic nervous system which fuels the fight/flight response. Helping your teen slow down their breathing can help them feel less anxious.
Challenge Irrational Thoughts
Social anxiety is irrational and your teen may understand they are irrational. This is part of the problem too as your teen's self esteem may start to be effected.
Their logical mind is telling them there is nothing to be afraid of. Yet, their emotional mind (which is not logical or rational) is screaming a different message that of fear and danger.
In a gentle way, help your teen challenge the irrational messages the emotional mind is sending them. Using evidence to help them at least understand that it's their social anxiety lying to them can help.
Parental Support: What Not To Do
There are many factors that lead to social anxiety. Do not criticize or blame your teen for the social anxiety. Find ways to empathize and support them through their struggle. Blaming them will only reinforce their anxiety.
Labeling as Shy
Social anxiety is more than shyness. Labeling as shy has two negative consequences:
1. It can discourage the teen into feeling they are making their struggle a bigger deal than they need to. Teens can feel shame for their anxiety and this can result in deeper problems.
2. Labeling can also result in the teen feeling like this is just the way they are. Some teens may develop a mindset that there is nothing they can do to improve.
Encourage the Avoidance
Social anxiety is fueled by avoidance strategies. The teen‘s primary coping mechanism is to avoid social situations so they won’t have to experience the anxiety or embarrassment.
Letting your teen stay at home reinforces the anxiety. You have to expose your child to their anxiety at a rate they can handle.
When To Seek Professional Help
If your teenager is experiencing social anxiety for over a month and the tips above aren’t helping, it may be time to seek professional help. Find a teen therapist that specializes in working with teenagers and social anxiety.
A teen therapist can use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help your teen address and navigate their social anxiety. A teen therapist can also provide the support you need as a parent to help your child move past their struggle.
Another highly successful and powerful approach in helping your teen overcome social anxiety is neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is effective in 80% of people who use neurofeedback. With qEEG neurofeedback, that number increases closer to 90%. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we utilize qEEG neurofeedback.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have a neurofeedback therapist who is Board Certified in Neurofeedback through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA). BCIA is the main board certifying body for neurofeedback in the United States and internationally.
Begin Teen Therapy With a Teen Counselor at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston
Teens with social anxiety can feel hopeless. It can feel overwhelming and that it will never get better. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, through teen counseling and family therapy, we see teens overcome social anxiety all the time. And so can you.
If you are ready to work with a specialist who can help you overcome social anxiety, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our teen counselors who specialize in teen therapy
Let us help you overcome the struggles that stand in your way of happiness & success
Other Therapy & Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & Houston
At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other counseling and therapeutic services. We provide a variety of specialized teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling services.
Below are a few of the specialized therapy and counseling services we provide at Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)
About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in teen therapy and helping teens build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.
Quique views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.